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APSU hosts talks by Holocaust survivor and author

3/2/2004
Luzek Saltzman was 11 when Nazis took over his village in Poland. He was 14 when he entered a Jewish ghetto. On May 2, 1945—the day American soldiers freed him from the Weobbelin concentration camp—he was 17.

In his years of captivity, he “lived” in 10 concentration camps and experienced horrors beyond comprehension. But he survived.

Today, George Salton—the name he took when he immigrated to America—is a 75-year-old retiree, living in Florida. With degrees in physics and engineering, he enjoyed successful careers with the U.S. Department of Defense and in private industry.

On March 18, he will be the guest speaker at Austin Peay's Eighth Annual Asanbe Diversity Symposium, named in memory of Dr. Joseph Asanbe, a beloved faculty member of the department of languages and literature from 1987 until his death in 1996.

For 50 years prior to writing his book, Salton tried to forget what had happened to him in Nazi Germany. But a few years ago, his daughter, Anna Eisen, began asking, “What did they do to you? What did they do to my grandparents?”

Eisen said, “I'm named for somebody who died in a gas chamber, and I needed to know more about her than that.” (Star-Telegram, Sept. 25, 2002)

To enable his children to understand their history, Salton took them to Poland in 1998. After returning to the United States, he began writing his memoirs with the help of Eisen, who says as she helped her father rediscover his past, she “discovered her father.”

Salton's memoir is a painful account of his life, beginning in 1939 when he was a young Jewish boy living in the Poland and concluding in 1945 when he was liberated by American soldiers.

After finishing his writing, Salton's family persuaded him to publish the memoirs as a memorial to the 6 million people who perished in the Holocaust.

His book, which was published in November 2002 by the University of Wisconsin Press, is titled “The 23rd Psalm: A Holocaust Memoir.”

In a Feb. 1, 2004, article in The Palm Beach Post, writer Ron Hayes says the book “reads like a soft-spoken nightmare.”

He writes: “In ‘The 23rd Psalm,' George Salton has the wisdom to step aside and let what he saw and heard speak for itself in simple, straightforward prose …This is writing as stark and steady as a death march.”

Since the publication of his book, Salton has spoken at events across the nation. He has been on CNN's “NewsNight with Aaron Brown” and on National Public Radio, and he has written articles that have been published in newspapers around the world.

Now on the evening of March 17, members of the APSU faculty will honor Salton with music, words and images from the Holocaust in a concert titled “To Remember and Record.” Free and open to the public, it will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the concert hall of the music/mass communication building.

On Thursday, March 18, Salton will discuss “The 23rd Psalm: A Holocaust Memoir” at 12:15 p.m. in Room 303, Morgan University Center. At 3:15 p.m. that day, there will be a panel discussion, “Remembering the Holocaust,” in UC 303. Both events are free and open to the public.

At 11:30 a.m., March 18, there will be a by-reservation-only luncheon. For luncheon information and reservations, contact Dr. Dwonna Goldstone, assistant professor of English, by telephone at (931) 221-7886 or by e-mail (goldstoned@apsu.edu).

The 2004 Asanbe Diversity Symposium is sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, College of Arts and Letters, School of Education, Honors Program, International Studies Program, Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts, Women's Studies Program, Social Work Program, Sigma Alpha Iota and Phi Mu Alpha honoraries, the Episcopal Campus Ministry and the departments of music, languages and literature, history and philosophy and sociology.

For more information on the Asanbe Diversity Symposium, telephone the department of languages and literature at 7891.
—Dennie Burke